Monthly Archives: February 2014

Drew Dudley’s Definition of Leadership

In this week’s consultation with leadership trainer David Morillo, I was reintroduced to Drew Dudley’s short but sweet TED talk, Everyday Leadership. Every person has the potential to be a leader; we tend to either glorify leadership as something unique to a particular set of people (the extroverted, the charismatic, the confident, the powerful) or we define leadership as the state of being in a position of power. Either of these will lead to the right person avoiding a leadership position or the wrong person filling a leadership position. There is nothing more damaging to an organization than not cultivating the leadership abilities of its employees, except perhaps a person in a leadership position who cannot or does not want to cultivate growth and intrinsic motivation in his or her team. So, what is the true definition of leadership? What is the first step in growing one’s leadership? Well, there is no one true definition (that’s what makes it so universal), but we can all agree that great leaders have vision and a true understanding of the “why” or purpose that drives them. For Dudley, the first step in growing leadership comes from the recognition that one small act, something that changes another’s vision of the world is leadership.  Leadership is about those “lollypop” moments. Check out this inspirational talk below!

How do you define leadership? How do you cultivate your skills as a leader?

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February: The Month of Unprecedented Growth

February has been an amazing month for myself, my significant other, my superteacher bff, and my superstar friend, writing center coordinator, freelance writer, and Younique consultant, Nicole Chapman. Nicole has been growing her body of work since graduating with her MFA in creating writing and earning the PROPS Excellence Award for outstanding service to Full Sail University. Her growth has expanded to her actualizing one of her natural talents and gifts–makeup and image consulting. Check out her teaching portfolio here for more information on this superconsultant and future superteacher. I am inspired to see someone talented take on the initiative of growing and evolving her skills!

I am participating in a tech networking event next month, Trucks and Tech III: Truckpocalypse. In preparation, I created business cards for myself and Jason, who is a freelance video editor. This has definitely helped me overcome my designer’s block and I am hard at work on my next Slideshare offering, based on my content development series.

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In designing my card, I used the colors and style in my TYS logo to help reinforce continuity in my brand.

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In designing the back, I wanted to convey the three core principles that drive my services as presentation consultant–developing ideas, designing visuals, and delivering an engaging message.

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I chose to keep the front of Jason’s card very simple; you’ll see why when you see the back of the card!

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I was inspired by other video editor business cards and chose the clapper as an iconic representative in designing this card.

I also met with David Morillo, a colleague, trainer, and former student, whose leadership presentation was positively incredible–a lovely blend of storytelling, audience engagement, and motivational ideas. Finally, Alex and I learned we will now be teaching a new set of students from the Sports Marketing Bachelor of Science.

There’s something in the air readers, something that has sparked an incredible amount of creative growth and opportunity in my network. I am taking a blogging break for the weekend to finish the PCP course reboot, participate in a 5k, and consult with my students, but I wondered if anyone else out there had felt or experience a similar spark of growth and opportunity?

Post-script, this week I heard from two of my heroines, Pamela Slim and Nancy Duarte. This is what my face looked like when I opened up my WordPress front page:

Photo on 2-27-14 at 1.32 PM

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Data Display of the Day: Climbing the Mountain of Resumes

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As the PCP reboot really takes off, Alex Rister and I are working on developing our weekly lessons/modules using a blend of video, image, and text-based instructional assets. Our ultimate goal for the reboot is to help our students understand what the true connection between effective presenting and professional success is. Why do they need to analyze their growth as professionals so far? How does this analysis better serve them when they present themselves online or in person? I truly believe that communicating and presenting your ideas to others is the most important skill a professional at any level can learn, especially when it comes to landing that dream job, keeping that dream job, and finding others with whom to collaborate. Today’s infographic can help our students take the project they create in Professional Communication and Presentation and present it in a way that is going to help them climb to the top of the resume mountain. This infographic, created by Kelly Services, provides job seekers with some excellent advice (some of which I really need to take on!). The connecting thread is audience awareness and adaptation. Just as in a strong presentation, a job seeker must adapt to his or her audience’s needs to better persuade and motivate them to act.

1. Make sure your resume aligns with your target company

Creating a different resume for each company may seem tedious, but it can make the difference between a resume that catches a recruiter’s eye and a resume that gets put in the virtual or physical trashcan.

2. Know your target company’s culture

As the infographic explains, in our age of connectivity and instant access to information, it’s easier than ever to conduct research on a company and adapt your approach to their needs.

3. Be confident and attentive

Those who are hiring you want to hire someone who is confidence in his or her abilities (not cocky!) and who is “present” during an interview. Show recruiters you are confident that you are not only a good fit for the job but also that you are confident in your definition of what it means to be a professional.

4. Don’t forget to say thank you

Whether via an email or phone call, show gratitude for the time your “audience” gave you.

What are your interview “must dos”? What did you do to land that dream job?

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Another Great and FREE Resource by Duarte Design

In late 2013, Nancy Duarte, fairy godmother of presentation development and design, released a free HTML 5 version of her landmark text, Resonate. I instantly fell in love with this version of her book, which took the print version to a new level of interaction and connectivity. This entirely free version of the book contains behind the scenes tidbits, interactive exercises, videos, and guides to important concepts like Duarte’s Sparkline. This week, Duarte Design released Slidedocs: Spread Ideas with Effective Visual Documents, a free guide to creating what Duarte believes to be a necessary common ground between the density of long-form reports and a live, immersive, cinematic presentation of information. What do you do when you want your audience to preview data and information before a big presentation? What about after a presentation when someone asks for your presentation? What about when you aren’t able to conduct a live presentation at all? The only answer is no longer a lengthy, text-heavy report. Instead, Duarte takes the concept of a “slideument” (coined by Garr Reynolds in Presentation Zen) and actually turns it into a positive–the beautiful blend of text, image, layout, and thorough content development, the “slidedoc.” Check out the interactive and again FREE guide to creating slidedocs below or visit duarte.com/slidedocs. This guide will come in handy as we rework the PCP course. I’ve already seen how presenting information via text-only in proposing the class to others has led to confusion instead of clarification. Thinking of the instruction sheets and other course information we provide to students as slidedocs will help us ensure students not only study their course materials carefully but are engaged and interested while doing so!

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Great Questions Spark Innovation

This week, Alex Rister and I met with a colleague and former student, David Morillo. During our meeting, David, who is an Online Admissions Training Team Leader at Full Sail University and an integral part of leadership training at our institution, led me through an exercise designed to help me isolate my hierarchically based value system. During that exercise, I shuffled through cards with words like “Faith,” “Family,” “Accomplishment,” and “Wealth” on them. After sorting, resorting, and resorting again, I landed on my top two values: “Fairness” and “Creativity/Innovation.” I cannot really pin point the source of my adamant belief in fairness as a guiding principle in life, but when asked why I chose creativity and innovation over other values like “Change” or “Knowledge”, I realized that for me, innovation leads to growth, increased knowledge, and wisdom. My drive to choose paths in life that help further foster creativity leads to growth in these other areas. One way I teach by innovation is to constantly ask my students questions and encourage them to come up with questions of their own. Author and business journalist, Warren Berger recently wrote the book (A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas) on questions as a tool for innovation. More than just asking questions, it’s important to ask the right questions as a path to innovation. In this book and in this INC. article by Leigh Buchanan, Berger describes what makes a great question, what sorts of questions don’t get asked, and how to motivate others to ask questions. Three takeaways from this article I can apply to my own body of work and the work of my students are:

1. A great question is challenging and ambitious

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Great questions force the speaker and listener to content with an idea, make sense of it, and find a solution (or myriad of solutions) to the proposed problem at hand. A PCP Reboot question to consider here is: What if we actualize persuasion by asking students to learn to sell their professional stories?

2. Leaders’ questions help create a culture of inquiry

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Oftentimes as a teacher, I don’t have an answer to a proposed question. I simply want to see where a question takes us. Students can then learn that sometimes the best questions have no immediate or firm answer.

3. A great answer takes time

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I’ve worked on answering the big question for my course–how do we truly reveal the power and importance of a presentation in an accelerated asynchronous medium–for five years. Each time I think I’ve found the answer, a new facet of the question reveals itself that I must contend with, iterate around, and work to solve.

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Blissfully Growing My Body of Work

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I know I’ve said it already, but Pamela Slim’s book Body of Work is amazing–a real life changer. I finished the book last night and it’s helped me continue the introspective task of examining my own body of work and identifying the thread that holds that body of work together. My two months off classroom teaching have already been incredibly productive. Not only have I created the structure for the new Professional Communication and Presentation class, I’ve also been working on the following this month:

  • Becoming the faculty advisor for the Full Sail Student Book Club
  • Advising students as they prepare their Strategic Business Planning final projects and Sports Marketing final projects
  • Advising the International Student Office on their recruitment materials
  • Reworking an executive’s resume and executive bio
  • Advising collegiate DECA students on their presentations
  • Signing up for leadership training at my institution
  • Volunteering to be an online learning platform “super user”
  • Finalizing my application to the Doctorate of Education in Higher Education at the University of Central Florida
  • Perfecting my homemade mojo and homemade tortilla recipes

One area of work I am particularly proud of is the resurgence of some good ol’ faculty collaboration in the Liberal Studies department!

Finalizing the Brown Bag Extravaganza for Liberal Studies

  • I pitched the Liberal Studies Round Table initiative to my superiors in 2013. Initially, my vision for this was as a forum for collaboration, a place where faculty from different departments in the Liberal Studies family could come together and share best practices. The RT had a rough start and faculty yearned for a more informal forum in which to meet and collaborate. This year, I’ve collaborated with faculty from Digital Literacy and Creative Writing to rebrand and revamp the initiative. After scouring faculty for topics and interests, we are one meeting away from finalizing our first session, a more informal meet up where faculty can share best practices and challenges we all face. Our first focus will be GoTo Training. I cannot wait to collaborate with other faculty and have meaningful conversations about how we use this tool and how we can use it more effectively! Here is the flyer I created this week to market the event:

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Slideshare of the Day: Pitching Ideas

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Pitching the ultimate idea, yourself, will be the main focus of the Professional Communication and Presentation Reboot. I am busy working on my own body of work today, a collaborative meet up for instructors in the Liberal Studies Department, of which I am a part, but I wanted to take a moment to share an excellent deck on the subject of pitching ideas. What will lead one student to success and another to failure could be all in the way the student sells him or herself. One of my favorite takeaways from this deck, created by , Creative director & partner at Oak & Morrow BV is that a great pitch is all about “them”, the target audience! Keep your audience’s needs and wants in mind and you’ll be that much closer to convincing them you are “The One.”

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Data Display of the Day: Get the Most out of Google

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Google has become the bane of many a teacher’s existence. Yes, it’s an incredibly useful tool for research and learning, and it has made it easier for us to access the world’s information. But, it’s also made our students lazy and reductive when it comes to research. When I was in school, research meant going to a library, opening up the creaky cabinets of a card catalog filled with typed dewey decimals, authors, a terse description of the work, and a location. To find credible and viable research, I had to decipher that card, pore through shelves of hard bound journals, find my article, read it, copy it, and handwrite a citation using the MLA Handbook (I won’t say which edition) as a guide. This process reaffirmed the worth of that source to me; it forced me to really think about how I searched for information; it emphasized that good research is a process–sometimes a lengthy one. In graduate school, this process was streamlined by the introduction of online databases, which saved me a trip to the library, a bit of search time, but no less emphasized that good research as some quantifiable characteristics–a credible author, a spot in a reputable publication, and verifiable sources of information.

Today, my students cringe at the thought of using these databases and wonder why they can’t just type in a random search term–“banning pitbulls is wrong”–in Google, indiscriminately grab the first three results including Wikipedia and call their research process complete after 10 minutes. The downside of Google’s openness and ease is that it reinforces in students that if it’s on Google, it’s perfectly good to use, even if the source is clearly not credible (no author, a dubious author with no credentials or experience, extreme bias, zero publication information).

Today’s infographic, created by HackCollege.com and found via Daily Infographic
helps move students’ use of Google in the right direction, and helps curb a big problem they found: “3 out of 4 students couldn’t perform a ‘well-executed search’ on Google” (Source). The infographic is easy to navigate and is organized first by using operators to streamline the type of information a student wants to find (statistics, examples, etc.). One of my favorite tips is “don’t ask Google questions.” Google is not a person, it’s not going to understand what source is best if you want to know the average air speed of a swallow unless you use operators like “intitle:” (I love this operator–it helps reinforce scholarly research as opposed to general education sites; if velocity is in the title of a pdf document, chances are you are moving closer to a paper conducting research on the average velocity of birds).

Next, the infographic covers Google Scholar, a rarely used subset of Google that can direct students to the exact type of research they SHOULD be using in papers and presentations. The infographic then introduces students to some tips, tricks, and hotkeys (did you know Google could do math for you??). Finally, students are given three other important tips: 1. use the library; 2. don’t cite wikipedia, check the references instead; 3. look to a source’s bibliography for more great information.

This is sure to become an asset in the PCP reboot for both online and campus students!


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Professional Communication and Presentation Reboot: Opportunities

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Pamela Slim’s Body of Work is amazing; I am only 60 pages in, but I understand why professionals I look up to like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte recommend this book. I cannot wait to integrate its ideas into the course and share Slim’s insights with students! Today, I’ll be working on creating the assignments for the month after finishing Slim’s book. I’m hoping to get down to designing lessons this week and next. Previously, in discussing the upcoming PCP reboot, I covered the challenges the team faces:

  • Challenge #1: The lack of synchronous communication
  • Challenge #2: Understanding and engaging in presentation as a process
  • Challenge #3: Streamlining content
  • Challenge #4: Universalizing the experience for multiple degree programs
  • Challenge #5: Emphasizing the first P in Professional Communication and Presentation

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Now, I’d like to talk about how we are working to turn each challenge into an opportunity for growth and what tools/concepts we’re using to tackle those challenges.

Opportunity #1: Google Hangouts to add synchronicity

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Without synchronous communication with both instructors and classmates, students never really get an understanding of how important rapport and connection are in the presenter/audience relationship. Presenting like you are having a conversation is a real challenge when your conversation is with a little green dot or camera. In order to add a bit more synchronicity to the course (in addition to weekly GoTo Trainings), students will now meet for two Google Hangouts in small teams. The purpose of these Google Hangouts is three fold. Firstly, students will be able to engage in self-analysis of their progress on the major course project, considering their strengths and areas of growth. Secondly, students will have a chance to communicate live with their peers, collaborating on project revisions and improvements. Finally, through this medium, students will have a chance to practice delivery and execution while completing fun improv exercises.

Opportunity #2: Using self-analysis and peer-analysis to reinforce process

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Currently, students engage in a bit of self-reflection in weeks 1 and 4 of PCP. First, they consider their goals, challenges, and pitch topics for a persuasive presentation. Then, in week 4, they complete a revision worksheet that includes a reflection on advice portion. Students consider the feedback they’ve received, the amount of time they’ve devoted to the project, and the time they’ll need to finalize the presentation. Peer analysis comes in the form of asynchronous discussion response posts. In the reboot, this will change a bit to include self-analysis and peer-analysis in the Google Hangout sessions. Another way we are working to make asynchronous discussions richer and more collaborative is to ask students to now videotape their responses to one another on discussion boards as opposed to asking them to write these responses out. From Alex Rister’s experience in public speaking online, videotaped responses generate stronger and more applicable feedback. Finally, self and peer analysis will help reinforce that presenting involves a systematic process of creating, designing, critiquing, and delivering.

Opportunity #3: Placing more emphasis on GoTo Training lessons

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Weekly GoTo Training lessons are currently used to reinforce the week’s lesson and activity concepts as well as cover some of the pitfalls of completing work in the course. This, however, means that they are not really used to their greatest potential–as a means of recreating the much more effective live class session, where in students are engaged in activities that reinforce what they learn via the course text and brief class lectures. In the new iteration of PCP, these live sessions will be the primary mode of instruction, with video and text lessons serving as supplements. Whereas currently students would teach themselves what a brand mantra is by studying an article by Megan Mars and watching a video on the subject, students will now learn this concept in a live class session where they can ask questions, get immediate feedback for their mantras, and collaborate with others to better understand and apply this technique. Without attending or watching the archive of a GoTo session, students will not be able to learn the concept as successfully.

Opportunity #4: Focusing on what students want to learn

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It’s been a difficult though enlightening transition from gen ed class for business students only to gen ed class for a variety of business, creative, and technical programs. Our challenge in teaching this many different types of students how to present online in one month was finding common ground, either skills-based or thematic, that would allow all students to engage with the content, their classmates, and the place of their new skills set in their professional futures. Currently, while a persuasive presentation on a non-industry related subject helps students apply their skills to a persuasive presentation delivered with visuals, the students didn’t always seem to see how this skill would fit into their careers. This made the PCP team cringe–what could be more important than learning how to effectively communicate and present your vision to others!? What we had to acknowledge was that finding a subject all students want to learn more about and also focusing their major project on something that would be immediately relevant was more important than learning presentation skills in general. What is the goal of each of our students in earning a degree? To propel themselves to professional success! This desire to grow professionally became our common ground. This leads us to the the most exciting opportunity of this reboot–the Professional Persona Project!

Opportunity #5: The Professional Persona Project

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Pamela Slim believes that a body of work is baed on the connective thread between a professional’s experiences (Source). It’s not about distinct experiences working in a vacuum; it’s about the big themes that connect all of the work you do or will do. The Professional Persona Project is an opportunity for students to consider their development and growth as professionals so far, where they see themselves going as future professionals, and how they can better communicate their unique skills as professionals in a specific field to a target audience (individual, company, or specific facet of their industry).  In this project, students will be analyzing their skills, assets, qualities, and abilities as a professional (assets). They will then consider their aspirations and goals as professionals. Finally, they will analyze the market realities in their chosen field. They will then present this information through a set of visuals and an elevator pitch. The Professional Persona Project is a showcase of what students have learned so far; work they’ve done in and out of school; and their qualities and skills (work ethic, technical abilities, communication/presenting skills, teamwork, etc.). The goal is for them to recognize their own strengths and to highlight those strengths by presenting them in an engaging, professional, and visually-driven way.

Tune in next week to learn more about the new course structure!

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Data Display of the Day: The Secrets of Happy Couples

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Though I don’t devote much time to discussing my personal life via Tweak Your Slides, I am happy to say that I am coming up on one year with my tender ginger beard of a boyfriend.

His silliness definitely adds to the gaggilion reasons why this one is a keeper.

His silliness definitely adds to the gaggilion reasons why this one is a keeper.

This is only the second time in my life that I’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day with a partner. It’s not something I regret, but something I celebrate. Having been single for most of my life has made me a stronger, more resilient and self-reliant person. But, it also means I have a lot to learn about how a strong relationship works. Today’s infographic, which comes by way of Daily Infographic and was created by Happify, is a great tool for comparison. While one cannot completely codify what makes a relationship work, by analyzing data related to what makes couples happy, we can get a bit closer to understanding what it takes to have a happy relationship:

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